WILMINGTON — On Monday night, the Board of Selectmen approved a recommendation from the Town Planner and heard updates from various town leaders on the effects of COVID-19 in town.
The first item of the night was a permit to remove earth from the property at 613 Main St. in the amount of 3,682 cubic yards. The recommendation from Town Engineer Paul Alunni on the matter included 17 conditions but was unanimously voted upon by the board.
The board then invited Wilmington Police Chief Brian Cavanaugh and Board of Health Director Shelley Newhouse for an update on COVID-19. Newhouse confirmed that there are only nine cases of coronavirus in town with two people in quarantine. She says that the Board of Health has been active trying to get the town open and that businesses are all reaching out to abide by the rules.
Town Manager Jeff Hull then mentioned that the 11 playgrounds in town are included in the current stage of reopening, along with fields, basketball courts, and the town skate park.
“There is some measure of risk, but we need to give people the opportunity to engage in recreational activities and follow the rules,” he said.
However, the town beach remains closed pending lifeguard hiring, and none of the town’s public restrooms will be reopening yet. Newhouse added that residents should continue to wear masks and wash their hands as soon as they get home from the playground.
Chief Cavanaugh introduced the topic of the Coronavirus Aide Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, for which he is coordinating reimbursement for all of the unbudgeted expenses that the town has had in responding to the coronavirus.
This was followed by a discussion of whether the town can offer playground programs and sports in addition to the work of the DPW to provide things at all of the parks like tents and hand sanitizing stations.
The board provided an update on the location of the annual Town Meeting which is set for June 27. Hull explained the plan is to put up a large tent in the area behind the WHS football field and across from the Wildwood cemetery. They suggested making a game plan to maximize parking for the meeting while also not clogging up Wildwood Street with cars parked along the road.
An important agenda item was for the board to say congratulations and goodbye to Selectman Michael McCoy, who has served on the board for more than 30 years. After a brief video from WCTV, former selectman Mike Champoux spoke to his admiration and respect for Selectman McCoy.
“Perhaps we didn’t always agree on certain issues, but we were always able to agree without being disagreeable with each other,” he said.
Champoux wished him good luck.
In addition to congratulations, Kevin Caira laid out how much time and effort each board member contributes throughout the year just to meetings, let alone to other committee meetings, going to town events, and meeting with residents.
“For you having done [all of that] for 30 years is an incredible feat,” Caira said.
Jonathan Eaton recognized McCoy’s dedication to his family here and echoed how McCoy has treated everyone fairly even when they disagreed.
Selectman Jomarie O’Mahony recognized how McCoy helped her when she had questions as a newcomer. Town Manager Jeff Hull added that McCoy really knows how to show someone around Town Hall. He also brought up McCoy’s passion for constituent service.
Greg Bendel then concluded with his own admiration for McCoy’s family focus and presented him with a plaque recognizing his devoted service to Wilmington from 1987 to present.
In addition to responding to every kind word, McCoy added his own thanks to the residents of Wilmington, to his family, and especially to his wife.
“I gave it my all to keep Wilmington Wilmington,” he said. “I’m blessed to have made a lot of friends.”
He then quoted Winston Churchill to say that he’s proud of having stood up for what he believed was best for the town.
Among the correspondence brought up was a recommendation from Hull to transfer money from the Finance Committee’s reserve account to help meet budget deficits where the expended amount exceeds the amounts authorized from projected budgets for things like dispatch and police department overtime.
All of the correspondence discussed can be found on the Town Manager’s website next to the agenda from Monday’s meeting.
The board voted unanimously in favor of Samantha Reif’s request for the annual substance abuse vigil to be held on Sept. 21, for the compliance certificate relevant to the sale of an affordable unit at 195 Salem St. Unit 28, and three new election workers for the upcoming town election.
Considering the town election, the board invited Town Moderator Robert Peterson to discuss whether they should recommend to postpone any petitioned articles for Town Meeting until a special Town Meeting TBD. While Peterson established that all warrants would be brought up at the Town Meeting, he noted that the board or any resident could propose a motion to postpone any article or a group of articles.
A major concern seemed to be the articles regarding the creation of a new senior center. McCoy mentioned that he’s heard a lot of people and seniors aren’t comfortable coming to Town Meeting under social distancing, having to wear masks, and being outside in the sun. It was also important to the members of the board to give the residents an expectation of what they would recommend at Town Meeting.
The Town Manager confirmed that the town’s free cash could still be accessible until the governor officially ends the state of emergency, which means it could be allocated for postponed items at a potential special Town Meeting under better circumstances.
While McCoy first made a motion to recommend postponing all petitioned articles which failed, the board ultimately passed a vote to take no action on the item.
The final vote of the night happened after Selectman McCoy recused himself. The agenda item concerned the allowance of restaurant and licensed establishments to begin to offer outdoor service areas outside of zoning laws, and to allow the sale of alcohol within the outdoor premises. This would involve an extension of previously approved liquor licenses that would only last until Nov. 1. The board voted to grant both authorities to the Town Manager.
With no public comments called in, the meeting concluded after announcements and shout-outs.